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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




A total of 131 men, women, and children lost their lives on 29–30 April 1881 when the intercolonial steamer Tararua, of 828 tons, struck a reef at Waipapa Point, Southland, less than three-quarters of a mile from shore. Of her total complement of 151 passengers and crew only 20 were saved. Heavy seas and pounding surf made rescue work impossible, and at a subsequent inquiry it was shown that after noon on the day following the disaster, no help could have been effective by sea or land. The cause of the catastrophe was the failure by an able-bodied seaman to keep a proper lookout. The 65 casualties whose bodies were recovered were buried in the nearby Fortrose Cemetery in a spot still identified as the Tararua Acre.

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